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Animals reduce the symmetry of their markings to improve camouflage


Some forms of camouflage have evolved in animals to exploit a loophole in the way predators perceive their symmetrical markings. The University of Bristol findings, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B today, describe how animals have evolved to mitigate this defensive disadvantage in their colouration.

Most animals with high-contrast markings have bilaterally symmetrical camouflage. For example, both butterflies and frogs have body shapes which can be divided along a midline into left and right sides with a mirror image on each side. However, this new study, led by researchers from Bristol’s Camo Lab, show that camouflaged symmetrical animals with patterns near their midline make themselves more detectable to predators.

To test the theory whether evolution has led animals to reduce the symmetry found in their camouflage to overcome this, researchers combined field and lab experiments and then conducted a ‘natural pattern analysis’ to investigate whether evolution has led animals to reduce this. MORE

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